Category Archives: Videos

Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams

It’s the feel-good hit of the previous century this time folks. It might seem easy peasy, with just four chords making up the bulk of the song – but there are a few subtleties in this one. That riff for a start… I’ve finally found a way to play it on the uke that I’m happy with. And then you have the bridge – whatever key you play this song in, either the verse or the bridge will use chords that you don’t like…

However, it’s a lot of fun to play!

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Keane’s nostalgic hit, from a piano based band, works actually pretty well on the uke. The original key of A might force you to learn a few chords that we don’t use all that often on the uke, and you’re gonna have to make peace with some barre chords to play this.

You can follow the chords in the chord chart if you want a slightly simplified chord progression, but if you listen to the piano in the original, almost none of these chords stay in one play for long, there are sus4s and maj7ths all over the shop. Check out the tab for the full progression details.

Here’s the tutorial
And here’s the full arrangement

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Well that was more work than I thought… This one was a lot of fun but took a long time to record. It’s definitely a challenge for a beginner uke player – with lots of chords, an unpredictable structure, and some little riffs and rhythms that take a bit of practice. Worth it though…

Here’s the chord chart and some tabs for the tricky bits:

Here’s the livestreamed tutorial
https://youtu.be/MPGXL0oxSwI

Patience – Take That

In 2009, Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers hailed “Patience” as:

“the greatest comeback single in history. If Neil Young had written it, people would be calling it a masterpiece.”

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/aug/17/pop-hidden-gems-take-that

It’s good pop. It has simple enough chords (with a couple of curveballs to keep you on your toes) but it’s the melody that shines for me. Plus, when you realise it shares the chorus chord sequence with 100+ other pop songs, it’s a no brainer to learn…

The original is in Gm, but I’ve written this arrangement in Em. If you want to play along with Take That, stick a capo on the third fret of the uke.

I’ve done a picking pattern for the verses, although it doesn’t match the guitar part very closely, it does add a bit of interest.

Here is the tutorial livestream
Here is my version of the arrangement (joined by Sofia)

All of Me – Jazz Standard – Gerald Marks – Seymour Simons

Here’s my version of the song

Doing a song called ‘All of Me’ last week just means that we have to do the ‘real’ All of Me this week. This is from 1931 and has been performed by all the jazz greats over the years.

On the uke, it’ll give your fingers a work out, and your jazz chords a stretch. I’ve done an easy chord chart and a ‘proper’ one. The easy chords follow our emergency chord rule: If you’re faced with a ‘jazz’ chord (i.e. with numbers) that you don’t recognise, just strip away the numbers until you get to a chord you do know. e.g. C6 -> C, A9 -> A7 -> A, Dm7 -> Dm, Fm6 -> Fm, Bbmaj13#5b9 -> Bb. The only rule is, you can’t change the fundamental major/minor nature of the chord (don’t let me catch you playing Am instead of A9!)

Following this rule will allow you to play otherwise pretty daunting songs – of course it won’t sound quite as authentic / cool / fancy but it can get you through a song that would otherwise be impossible…

The ‘proper’ chords are played using voicings designed to allow you to play with all strings fretted, giving a much better control over the length that the strings ring on for, and allowing us to do a nice tight staccato quarter note rhythm without too much effort – they’re also meant to be easyish to move between – I use my thumb around the back of the neck and on to the g-string when doing these chords.

Here’s the Livestream tutorial

All of Me – John Legend

One of the latest songs to be called ‘All of Me’ (there are many) I think happens to be an unusually well-written sentimental ballad written by John Legend for his wife-to-be, which took the charts by storm in 2014. Unusually for top-ten hits, it’s a very sparse arrangement consisting solely of Mr Legend’s (nice stage name) voice and piano, and some lyrics broadcasting his love for his fiancee. I didn’t really want to like it, but its simplicity, strong melody, and unusually faithful / monogamous lyrics sucked me in in the end, so here it is for the ukulele.

It starts off with a chord progression that forms the backbone of at least 40+ massive super hits, good start – (vi, IV, I V) in this key Em, C, G, D but then actually does change chord sequence and pattern twice more. The pre-chorus uses Am, G, D then the chorus uses G, Em, Am, C, D – it’s a pleasant run around the chords of G major (in the original it’s actually a semi-tone higher in Ab major) without once straying to any borrowed chords from another key – proof that you don’t have to be a master of music theory, or even ‘know all the chords’, to write or play a hit.

I’ve tried to borrow as much as I can from the piano part for this arrangement, although of course you can get by simply playing the chords. The interlude finger-picking pattern has some difficult rhythms in, to try to match the tasteful sparse piano notes in the original – not sure if I’ve quite succeeded…

Here’s the livestream tutorial
Here’s a performance of the arrangement

Nowhere Man – The Beatles

Here’s one I made earlier (with some incorrect solo notes…)

I remember hearing this growing up, and assuming it was about a homeless person or tramp or some such – but I recently read that it was probably about John Lennon himself, and the emptiness that he was feeling – sobering stuff.

When I came out to write with him the next day, he was kipping on the couch, very bleary-eyed. It was really an anti-John song. He told me later, he didn’t tell me then, he said he’d written it about himself, feeling like he wasn’t going anywhere. I think it was actually about the state of his marriage. It was in a period where he was a bit dissatisfied with what was going on; however, it led to a very good song. He treated it as a third-person song, but he was clever enough to say, ‘Isn’t he a bit like you and me?’ – ‘Me’ being the final word.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Anyhow, it’s a cracker of a song if you have a penchant for melancholic pop (like me)…

You’ll need three major chords (G, C and D), and three minor chords (Am, Bm and Cm) – and the Bm and Cm chords could be a stretch if you’ve not encountered them before – but be adventurous! You can also change the C’s to Cadd9 and the D’s to Dadd4 for a little extra sparkle…

Livestream tutorial video

I’m A Believer – The Monkees / Smash mouth

It’s a four chord fun package that was featured in Shrek – what more could you want?

You can add some nice embellishments as well, so there’s plenty of scope for more adventurous players.

This song will really sort out your G major chords, and particularly changing to and from a C major chord.

Livestreamed Tutorial 20/6/20
Just the performance of the song if you’d rather teach yourself